Movies: The Suit Doesn't Fit 

Jackie Chan falls flat in "Tuxedo."

Instead, it trots out a heavy-handed plot about a big-business villain who hopes to foist poisoned bottled water on the world. The brew makes people dehydrated. Just to prove it, we have several scenes of people shriveling up and dehydrating right down to dust. Does this water-manipulation film think it's "Chinatown" rather than a Jackie Chan comedy?

Chan plays a shy New York cab driver who has no luck with the girls. He takes a job as the chauffeur of a dapper secret agent (Jason Isaacs) who is injured during a bombing. When the chauffeur tries on the boss' tuxedo, magical things happen. The suit is filled with as many gadgets as a James Bond automobile. Just press the dial and it will do everything from teaching him the mambo to assembling a rifle. It saves the scriptwriter a good deal of action setups.

There are all kinds of comic possibilities here. Instead, director Kevin Donovan, heretofore of TV commercials, chooses to do a Bond spoof rather than a Chan comedy. Chan's character can't resist the urge to identify himself as "Tong, James Tong," in 007 style. It's a fatal mistake.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, an unlikely co-star for Chan, is cast as an abrasive sidekick who constantly puts him down. Hewitt displayed unexpected grace and star presence in "The Audrey Hepburn Story" on television. Here she is so determined to hold her own with Chan that she becomes shrill. But she proves that she's willing to do comic pratfalls — and has some timing for them.

After his box office success with the "Rush Hour" films, Chan has the American stardom he sought for so long. Now, big budgets, heavy-handed directors and overwrought plots threaten to do him in.

What we've come to expect with Chan is breakneck comedic action sequences, not an ultraheavy plot about contaminating the world's water. We don't need you to save the world, Jackie. We just want you to make us laugh. * S


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